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How to Uncover Your Optimum Selling Strategy – Part 2

ossIn How to Uncover Your Optimum Selling Strategy Part 1, I explained how I was looking for a way to get the Bright Ideas Agency generating positive cash flow in the shortest period of time possible by using what Michael Masterson calls an Optimum Selling Strategy (OSS) in his book, Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat.

Today, I’m going to continue where I left off by taking a deeper dive into the second of four questions that you (and I) must answer in order to discover our own OSS.

What Product Do You Sell Them?

Most people who start a business do so because they have an idea for a product or service. Sadly, this is not always the best way to get going – unless you’re just lucky enough to nail it right out of the gate.

Personally, I’m never that lucky! Which is why I recorded the video below a few years ago.

The reason that having only one product in mind when you launch isn’t a very good idea is because you are basically putting all your eggs in one basket, and unless you already know your market/industry extremely well, that is quite a large risk to take.

To avoid this, savvy entrepreneurs remain flexible about the details of their product. If version one doesn’t work, another version can be waiting in the wings.

How to Determine the Ideal Startup Product

Here are five simple steps to creating a product that is virtually guaranteed to succeed:

  1. Find out what products are currently hot in your market
  2. Determine if your product idea fits that trend
  3. If it does, you’re set, if not, go to next step
  4. Come up with me-too versions of several hot products
  5. Improve them in some way by adding features or benefits lacking in the originals

Let’s go into more detail on these steps.

How to Discover the Hot Products in Any Market

Figure out what's hot! Image credit:  123rf.com

Figure out what’s hot!
Image credit: 123rf.com

In Part 1 of this post, I suggested you go study the competition to see where they were advertising? Well, now you want to pay attention to what they are trying to sell with all those ads.

When you do this, you are going to see trends, and the trend you are looking for is the product type that is most commonly advertised. That is the hot product.

When studying the hot products in your market, it’s also very important to pay attention to the trend for these products because there is the chance that they are near the end of their trend. To do this, first, start off with Google Trends and take note of whether the search volume for related keywords is still on the rise. If it is, you’re probably in good shape.

Another method you can use is to talk to some people in the industry, as they are going to be far more in tune with what is going on within their industry that you are ever will…unless of course, you are already an industry insider.

Once you have identified the top three to five products in your space, you should spend some time studying them. Identify their features and benefits. Compare them. Attempt to figure out which features are most desirable. Make a list of any deficiencies that you see. Write all this down and then review it.

Once you’ve done all this, and you have an idea of what your product might look like, it is a good idea to start sharing it with friends and/or colleagues so that you can ask them for input on how you could improve it. If you don’t have a draft description of your product yet, just share the products you are researching and ask the same questions. If you and the people you are showing it to are excited, that is a good indication that you have something to take it to market.

How Much to Charge?

By now, you should know where your customers are and have a pretty good idea for a product that will sell. (Remember, you are NOT reinventing the wheel here…you are just improving on a kind of wheel that is already selling!)

All you need to do now is to figure out how much to sell it for.

Much like my previous advice on generating a product, with pricing, I’d suggest you stick pretty closely to what others are doing. If you can afford to be less expensive, that could be a good thing; however, keep in mind that building a business whose only differentiator is price can be a double edged sword. Good, because it generates business. Bad, because your price-conscious buyers may leave you in a heartbeat if they find a better deal somewhere else.

Optimal Selling Price

In Ready, Fire, Aim; Michael gives a pricing example from his newsletter business. He said that, through testing, he determined that $39/year is the optimal price for his newsletter. Selling for less eroded profits and selling for more killed conversions. Based on this, if I was launching a newsletter, I’d charge $39/year.

The optimum price isn't always the lowest one.Image credit:  123rf.com

The optimum price isn’t always the lowest one.
Image credit: 123rf.com

Earlier, I warned of trying too low a price. However, there is one exception to that, and that’s when you have a back end funnel filled with higher value, higher priced products.

For example, the last information product I launched was a course for marketing consultants on how to generate more leads. Because I wanted to sell a high volume of products, I priced it on a dime sale starting at $7 with the price rising to as high as about $10. Then, in my back end funnel, I offered two upsells. The first was at $49 and the second was at $97. Of those who purchased the initial product, 26% of buyers took the first upsell and 10% of buyers took second upsell.

As a result of taking this approach, we sold 1,450 front end units, 377 of upsell #1 and 148 of upsell #2. Overall, even though I never made a dime on the front end sale, the product’s overall profits were very good and since then, I’ve been able to generate even more revenue from the customers that bought the original product. Obviously, I’m not the first one to try a strategy like this – and, as I said before, sticking to what is already working for your product/market will likely lead to desirable results.

How Will You Convince Them to Buy?

If you’ve done a good job with defining your OSS up to this point, generating sales will not be overly challenging. With that said, they key is to generate as many sales as possible, and to do that, you are going to need to ensure that you do an extremely effective job of getting your sales message across to your buyer. This is done with sales copy.

Sales copy can have a huge impact on sales. Done correctly, sales copy can easily double your overall sales.

If you have never written sales copy before, study the sales pages and emails of other successful sellers in your space. Pay particular attention to the structure of their sales copy, as opposed to just their words.

As you might guess, an overview of how to write sales copy is well outside the scope of this post, so rather than attempt to do that, I’d suggest you grab a copy of Michael’s book and study the chapter devoted to sales copy. In addition, you may also want to spend some time on CopyBlogger.com as there are a plethora of tips and advice to be found.

For the basic nuts and bolts of writing effective sales copy, I’ll offer up four concepts (from Michael’s book) that you must know:

1. You must understand the difference between wants and needs
2. You must understand the difference between features and benefits
3. You must understand how to establish a unique selling proposition (USP) for you product
4. You must understand how to sell the USP

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oss

How to Uncover Your Optimum Selling Strategy – Part 1

oss

When launching a company or a product, my goal is always to get the maximum traction possible in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes, I get better results than others, and because of that, I’m always on the lookout for methods that appear to be more effective than what I’m currently using.

It was with this desire in mind, that I started to read a book called Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat by Michael Masterson, and while I’ve not yet finished this wonderful book, I have already picked up some really fantastic ideas, the first of which is what Michael calls The Optimum Selling Strategy.

Introduction to The Optimum Selling Strategy

Michael believes that for every business at any given time, there is one best way to acquire new customers, and that this best way is the way the meets the company’s greatest current need. For a startup, the greatest need is almost always – or should be – generating positive cash flow.

Put simply, startups need to find the most effective way to generate positive cash flow NOW.

You need to prioritize your cash flow. (image source: www.123rf.com)

You need to prioritize your cash flow.
(image source: www.123rf.com)

The mistake that most entrepreneurs make when they are first starting out is that they are so totally jazzed with their product or service (their baby), that they don’t give adequate considering to feeding their baby – with cash flow. Oddly, this same thing can even happen to more experienced entrepreneurs like me! We often assume that one method of selling can be just as good as another.

According to Michael, we’re dead wrong.

How we sell our lead product – the specific decisions we make about presenting and pricing it – has a huge impact on whether or not we’ll be successful. If you find yourself thinking that your product is so totally awesome that it will sell itself, you’re in for a rude awakening, I can assure you.

Figuring out my OSS for the Bright Ideas Agency is something that I’m working on right now; and was my motivation for writing this post. I always think through things better when I write, so why not share my thoughts, ideas, and insights with you? Hopefully, some of you will add your own ideas down in the comments, and we’ll all benefit as a result.

How to Discover Your Optimum Selling Strategy

When you get this right, you are taking a huge step in the right direction. It will make everything else that much easier. Problems will be less of a hassle, obstacles will be easier to overcome, and objectives will be less difficult to attain. Why? Simple…customer acquisition will no longer be your biggest and most expensive problem. Woot!

There’s another benefit to knowing your OSS that you should be aware of, and that is this: when you truly understand the basics of how to sell to your marketplace, you will never fall victim to anyone else’s half-baked marketing strategies and idiotic sales programs. And, even when you hand over the reigns to your marketing and sales functions to someone else, you will be able to confidently lead them in the right direction as your company grows.

The Four Secrets of the OSS

When you are first starting out, there are plenty of tactics that you could employ to attract customers. Direct mail, PPC advertising, Email marketing, SEO, Blogging, Youtube, and Podcast, Radio, etc…

ossquote1As you are not likely an expert in all of these areas, you are going to very likely end up talking to people who are, and as a result, each of the experts you talk to is going to make a compelling case for why their particular method or medium is the best one for you to use.

To determine the optimum selling strategy for your business, you need to answer four questions that will have a significant impact and how quickly you generate positive cash flow – if at all!

Here are the four questions:

  • Where are you going to find your customers?
  • What product will you sell to them?
  • How much will you charge for it?
  • How will you convince them to buy it?

Answering these four questions is critical to discovering your OSS. To help you (and me) do that, let’s dive a little deeper into each one.

Where Are Your Customers?

Where do your customers spend time? Image credit:  123rf.com

Where do your customers spend time?
Image credit: 123rf.com

As I’m an online marketer, I tend to think about this in terms of where do they hang out online? Which blogs, forums, and communities do they enjoy? I also am starting to ask myself which magazines and trade journals they read because, most often, these companies will also maintain an email list. This is important because using “sponsored emails” is a going to be a part of my outreach strategy (which I will explain in future posts).

The trick here is that the answers may not be as easy as you’d think.

To give you an example of what I mean, I’m going to summarize the example that was used in Ready, Fire, Aim: let’s say you want to sell a new kind of golf ball. Where could you find your customers? The follow places might all work to reach them:

  • In the golf pro shop waiting in line to pay for stuff, so an ad near the cash register might work.
  • Advertising on the back page of a golf magazine might also work
  • A TV commercial that is run during tournaments might also work
  • Renting lists with names and addresses of amateur golfers might also work

As you can see, there are plenty of places where your customers could be reached, so what should you (and I) do?

The Best Strategy for Startups

Here’s my best advice for the lowest risk strategy: do what everyone else is doing. Why? Because if everyone else is doing it, it must work, right? Now, I’m not saying that you should do what everyone else is doing forever. There will be plenty of time to innovate and experiment later on, but for now, you need cash flow and want to avoid risk.

Finding the Best Locations

So, how do you locate the best places to find customers? Simple. Just pay attention to where your competition is advertising. Then, talk to people who are already selling to the same set of customers. Ask for the names of the people who are in charge of marketing and tell them you are a marketing student eager to learn what they do (this is true!) and ask for a 15 minute “informational interview”. Or, even better, ask them to be a guest on your podcast! (Why do you think I interview so many successful people on mine?)

Every industry also has its own trade association and these associations can be data gold mines. Contact them and tell them your plans for marketing your product. They will want to help you – just keep in mind that their advice will be a bit biased.

The goal with all this is to assemble a master list of media placements – a map of where all the marketing activity for your industry is happening. This map will reveal where your competitors advertise, how often they do it, and how much they are spending.

Short on cash? Not to worry! Doing research like this doesn’t cost anything more than your time.

When it comes to marketing, nothing is more important that where you buy your media. This is because it really doesn’t matter how well your sales copy is written if you are pitching the wrong audience. For example, if my ad offered 75% off Luis Vuitton bags, but I sent the offer to lumberjacks, I’m not likely to sell much, am I? Whereas, if my sales copy is just average, but I target my exact customers (and do it well), I’m going to see a LOT more sales come in the door.

What Product Do You Sell Them First?

We’ll discuss this in detail in the next post in this series, so stay tuned…or better yet, become a subscriber and you’ll never miss a thing!

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How Aweber is Losing You Customers: The Big Picture of Aweber vs Infusionsoft

I’m often asked by people that are unfamiliar with Infusionsoft if they should pick it, or Aweber for their email marketing. What these people fail to understand is the magnitude of the differences between these two applications.

trike-vs-gt2

Aweber VS Infusionsoft: It’s Not Even Close

Comparing the two is like comparing a Porsche to a tricycle. With Aweber, you can do very basic email auto-responders, and nothing more, whereas with Infusionsoft, you can run your entire business; marketing, email, CRM, online shopping cart, affiliate program, and so much more.

So, with all that said, let me begin by giving you my opinion: Infusionsoft is a game changing application, and, by comparison, Aweber is just one tiny piece of the overall picture.

So, with that said, here we go…

Back when I first started my business with a list of subscribers, I chose a company called Aweber for my email marketing provider. They are well known and it only costs $1 to get started on a trial. If you like the software, you have to pay only $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers.

If you are just starting out with email marketing, Aweber is as good a choice as any; however, as your business grows, you are going to eventually run into some serious limitations and then, if you decide to change providers, the pain of change can be quite a burden.

In this post, I’m going to compare the two applications as well as to take a deep dive into why I made the switch from Aweber to Infusionsoft.

Aweber

Aweber’s product has been designed with a single goal: broadcasting and automated email follow up.

They are not a CRM tool, they don’t offer a shopping cart, or anything else that Infusionsoft provides. They just do automated email follow up, so if that is all you need, Aweber will work just fine.

Pros

  • Low cost ($19/month for up to 500 subscribers)

Cons

  • Limited features (no functionality beyond sending emails)
  • Limited customization (you have to use double opt in and you are forced to have a named list for each of your segments, which as you will see when I explain how Infusionsoft works, really sucks)
  • List segmentation is hard (segmenting your list is extremely important and the way that Aweber does this is really a challenge because the only way to get a subscriber onto more than one list is to get them to opt in again which causes extra work for your subscriber)

The Biggest Drawback of Aweber: Multiple System Chaos

Aweber is a very simple application that does one thing very well – hence the short list of pros and cons. However, I have saved the biggest drawback of Aweber for last…and that is this: If you use Aweber, you will suffer from Multiple System Chaos.

As Aweber only does one thing, you are definitely going to need other systems to handle the other parts of your business that are shown in the image below. Do you really want to have to deal with that? I sure don’t!

With Aweber, you will be forced into using multiple systems and the more you have to use, the more complex your business will be

With Aweber, you will be forced into using multiple systems, and the more systems you have to use, the more complex your business will be

Infusionsoft: The Solution to Multiple System Chaos

In preparing for this post, I came across a number of other reviews that restricted themselves to comparing these two (extremely) different applications on a feature by feature basis, and in doing so, they completely missed the (very important) bigger picture!

I am a talented marketer, however, I am not the most technical person in the world and couldn’t write a line of code to save my life. For people like me, this means that using multiple systems will either result in lots of manual work (lame!) or the need for developers to write lots of code which can be a huge challenge as it requires a talented developer and a budget to pay for them.

Infusionsoft eliminates the need for multiple systems because not only does it do email marketing, but it is also my CRM system, my online shopping cart, and my affiliate program – all in one. As you are going to see in the remainder of this post, the integration of these 4 pieces is absolutely critical to your success.

Stop and Look at the Big Picture

Before I dive into all the reasons why I am such a fan of Infusionsoft, I’d like to draw your attention to the bigger picture. No matter what type of business you are in, there are some pretty important things that all businesses have in common. These things include:

  1. Attracting interest
  2. Capturing leads
  3. Nurturing prospects
  4. Converting prospects to customers
  5. Delivering your product
  6. Upselling and repeat sales
  7. Getting referrals
Infusionsoft was designed to support every step of Lifecycle marketing

Infusionsoft was designed to support every step of Lifecycle marketing

In a nutshell, this 7 step process can be referred to as lifecycle marketing and Infusionsoft has been designed from the ground up to support you in every single step, whereas Aweber at best will only support you with steps 2 and 3.

Keep reading, and I will, by way of example, show you why this is such a big deal.

Attracting Interest

Here at BrightIdeas.co, we attract interest with our content – which normally consists of blog posts, videos, and podcasts. Neither Infusionsoft or Aweber really play a part in this step, so, while the concepts are extremely important, for the purposes of this post, we don’t need to talk much about it.

If you would like to learn more about how to attract interest, check out our Lifecycle Marketing Guide.

Capturing Leads

Capturing leads is generally done with what is called a lead magnet, which, most often is a free piece of content that is given away in exchange for someone’s email address.

In my case, the lead magnet is the Conversion Tactics Toolkit, which is a 4-part video series on how to maximize conversions.

Both Infusionsoft and Aweber make building a web form (the thing that goes on your website to collect their name and email) pretty darn easy as they both have form building wizards that don’t require any technical skill at all. Just drag and drop form elements until you have a form that looks how you want. Below is a screenshot of a form that I use to begin segmenting my list.

the form below the video was built in the Infusionsoft form builder. Aweber can do the same.

the form below the video was built in the Infusionsoft form builder. Aweber can do the same. Want to see my segmenting in action? Subscribe to my list at BrightIdeas.co

Nurturing Prospects

Once you’ve captured a lead, what you do next is going to make a massive difference to your results, and it’s where most people really screw up.

Here’s what most people do: they begin sending the exact same sequence of emails to every single person that subscribes. Bad Dog!!!

I literally cannot stress enough the importance of segmenting your list. Why on earth would you send the same content to everyone? The needs of each of your subscribers differs greatly, so why would you send everyone the exact same content? You wouldn’t!

If you don’t segment your list, your email open rates will suffer and your unsubscribe rate will be much higher. From a marketing perspective, creating a Youtube video of your cat would be more effective :)

Infusionsoft Makes List Segmentation Easy. Aweber Makes is Really F$%@# Hard!

With Aweber, you must have a completely different list for each series of emails that you want to send. There are a number of challenges with this.

First, each list has to be a unique name that is not used by any other Aweber customer! (read that sentence twice to ensure that you really understand it)

That is just crazy…plus it makes naming your lists much more challenging than it need be.

Second…and this is even worse than the above, is that to get a subscriber from one list to another, you must get them to opt in again and that is going to mean more work for your subscribers.

Guess what that will mean for you? Fewer of them will bother, and as a result, your list will not be as well segmented as it could be.

Lack of Segmentation = Lack of Profits

With Infusionsoft, I don’t need to have separate lists; each with unique and hard to decipher names. Instead, all I need to do is apply something called a tag to a contact record…and, I can name that tag anything I like so that when I look at it later, it will be extremely easy for me to remember what it’s for.

Here’s a few examples of some of the tags I use (I have hundreds of them)

  • Clicked link to MobiLead Method sales page
  • Clicked link to [name of guest] interview
  • Bought [name of product]
  • Registered for [name of webinar]
  • Attended [name of webinar]
  • etc…

Essentially, a tag is like a little sticky note that I use to “stick” to anyone based upon something they click, watch, buy, or do.

Applying a tag is done automatically and can be applied in any of the following ways:

  • Subscriber clicks a link in an email
  • Subscriber fills out a web form
  • Subscriber buys a product
  • Subscriber flows through a campaign sequence

Tagging is unbelievably powerful and I could devote an entire post to it. The thing that I want you to understand here is that a tag can be applied without the need for a user to fill out another web form, so that means that I can make it extremely easy for a subscriber to be tagged based on their actions, or in the case of applying a tag as a part of a campaign sequence, I can apply a tag without my subscriber doing anything at all.

And yes, I can remove tags in the exact same way.

Tags in Action: A Practical Example

Ok…just in case this whole tagging thing isn’t really making sense, it’s so important that I want to give you an example as it pertains to nurturing a prospect.

When I capture a lead via a web form, I can tell Infusionsoft to apply as many tags as I like. At a minimum, I apply a tag that adds them to my newsletter list. I also apply a tag for the date they subscribed.

After they complete the web form, I direct them to another page with a video and another web form (shown in the screenshot further up in this post) and then more tags are applied to tell me that they have segmented themselves and what their occupation is.

Now they might, depending on which segment they are in, begin to receive a series of emails inviting them to a webinar. For this example, let’s say that there are 3 emails to be sent. If they click the registration link in the fist email, they do not receive the second and third email. If they don’t click the link in email #1, they will receive email #2, etc…

With Aweber, this is impossible. With Aweber, if someone is added to a list, they receive every single email that is a part of that list’s sequence unless your subscriber goes and fills out another web form, in which case you can remove them from list #1 and add them to list #2, or, you can have them on both lists.

With Infusionsoft, I might ask them to fill out a web form to apply/remove a tag, but I don’t have to as I could just as easily use any of the other methods that I have described above.

This one bit of functionality is incredibly powerful and it would take me far more than just this blog post to point out all the ways that this can be used.

To show tagging in action, let’s continue with this example…

Converting Prospects into Customers

Now that my subscriber has told me their occupation, Infusionsoft will send them a sequence of emails with links to product offers and content that are highly relevant to that occupation.

More Relevant Content/Offers = More Profits

Let’s suppose that this product offer sequence has 10 emails in it. If my subscriber clicks the link to the sales page in email #4 and buys the product, Infusionsoft will apply a tag that says something like “bought product A” and Infusionsoft will then immediately stop the 10 email sequence and will now start another sequence of emails that was designed specifically for buyers of product A (assuming I created a campaign to follow this logic).

Key Take Away: most people need to be reminded a few times to register for a webinar or buy a product, so with Infusionsoft, I can create multiple email sequences that will stop as soon as the user takes that action that I want them to…even if there are more “reminder” emails in that sequence. This one feature alone is hugely valuable as it increases revenue while avoiding sending too many emails to people who’ve already taken the desired action.

In the product A buyer sequence, I can do anything I want. Here’s a few examples:

  • Ask how they like the product
  • Ask for referrals
  • Send upsell offers
  • Automatically register them for a webinar
  • Start another campaign

Focus On Your Hottest Leads

Lead Scoring is another feature of Infusionsoft that is incredibly powerful because with lead scoring, you will always know who your hottest leads are at any given time, simply based upon which tags have been applied.

So, supposed a subscriber clicked on a link to a sales page from an email that they received as part of a campaign they are in. When that link is clicked, the tag is applied, and then, as you can see below, a lead score can be increased (or decreased) for a given period of time.

A contact's lead score can be automatically adjusted whenever a tag is applied.

A contact’s lead score can be automatically adjusted whenever a tag is applied.

Within Infusionsoft, leads a scored using a simple scale of 1 to 5 flames and, if you are creative in how you build your campaigns, you can trigger further automation that is starts when a lead score moves from 1 to 2 flames, or from 2 to 3 flames, etc…

Why do this? Don’t you think people with 5 flames should be paid attention to? I sure do!

This cannot be done with Aweber.

Create Lists on the Fly

From time to time, most businesses want to offer some kind of special promotion or discount on one of their products. Thanks to all the tagging that I do with my subscribers (remember, I apply tags for virtually everything my subscribers do/see/click/attend), I can very easily create a list of potential buyers based upon any criteria that I like. For example, I can easily create a list of invitees for a webinar that would appeal to only a portion of my entire audience and then send invites to only these people.

In both cases, all I would need to do is to run a query against my database that looking something like this:

Show me all the contacts who:

  • Subscribed between this date and that date
  • Have clicked the link to my MobiLead Magnet sales page
  • Have attended at a particular webinar
  • Who are not yet MobiLead Magnet customers

Hopefully, you get the idea. With tags, I have unlimited power to create a list of suitable contacts and then send them an offer anytime I want.

This is impossible to do with Aweber.

As I hope you are starting to realize, applying tags is an incredibly powerful and easy way to segment your list and Aweber simply cannot do this. It’s just not built that way…plus, it won’t tie into your online shopping cart unless you buy more software or hire a programmer.

With Infusionsoft, this is all done via the visual campaign builder. Below is a screenshot of a campaign created to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags and automation are the key to making this work.

This is a screenshot of a campaign created in Infusionsoft's campaign builder to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags are the key to making this work.

This is a screenshot of a campaign created in Infusionsoft’s campaign builder to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags are the key to making this work.

As I said earlier, Aweber does not have a shopping cart, so, without hiring a programmer, this type of integration will be impossible to do.

Delivering Your Product

So, now that you’ve collected the money via Infusionsoft’s online shopping cart, you actually have to deliver the product or service.

If your product is digital, you can have Infusionsoft automatically send out an email with a download link. This is easy as pie.

If your product is physical and is shipped by a fulfillment partner, you can have your campaign send a message to your fulfillment partner’s server and the order will be fulfilled automatically after the order is placed. This means you don’t have to do order fulfillment and and instead can be off doing something else…like say…sipping a margarita on your patio or playing with your kids :)

If your product is shipped by you or your staff, or you have sold a service of some kind, you can tell Infusionsoft to assign tasks to you are anyone else on your team. You are only limited by your imagination.

Did I mention that Infusionsoft has a CRM component? Well, it does, it’s a fantastic tool!

You can pull up any customer record you like and see a summary of all their tags, their orders, the campaigns that are running, the emails they’ve opened, and anything else you could ever want….and it’s all in one place…which means no more wasting time searching through multiple systems for the data you need!

This is the summary view. Clicking the icons provides much more detailed information about each contact.

This is the summary view. Clicking the icons provides much more detailed information about each contact.

Upselling and Repeat Sales

Unless you have only one product, or you like to continually look for new customers, upselling your customers to generate repeat business is a very good idea.

The reason for this is obvious: you don’t have to incur the expense of finding a new customer, so your net profit per transaction will be much higher than if you did.

With Infusionsoft, you can put product upsells on auto-pilot, and when you do, it will make a massive difference to your bottom line.

For example, 26% of the people the buy The MobiLead Method (now the Best Buyer Formula) decided to buy the first upsell, which is a bundle of done-for-you content. In addition to that, 6% of the people that bought The MobiLead Method also decided to buy the MobiLead Magnet, which is a WordPress plugin that I built to be used with the course.

If, during the checkout process (which is handled by Infusionsoft), someone doesn’t purchase one of the upsells, I could very easily create additional sequences to make additional offers down the road, and it would all happen on auto-pilot.

You cannot do this with Aweber.

Getting Referrals

Back when I ran my last company, Dyrand Systems, we got a lot of business from referrals from our existing customers. This happened because we did two things right: we delivered a premium service that our customers loved, and then we asked them to refer us to other people.

Back then, the asking part was a manual process that was done by our account managers.

Thanks to automation, identifying your happiest customers and then asking them for referrals can now be done completely on autopilot.

The NPS survey tells Infusionsoft who is most happy and then sends them an email with a request for a referral.

The NPS survey tells Infusionsoft who is most happy and then sends them an email with a request for a referral.

With Aweber, you cannot do this on auto-pilot.

Final Thoughts

While extremely capable, Infusionsoft does have a few draw backs.

First, it is much more expensive that Aweber. Depending on what promotions Infusionsoft is running at any given time, the software requires an up front investment of $1,500 to $2,000 and then costs between $219 and $379 per month. Aweber starts at just $19/month. But remember…do you want a tricycle or a Porsche?

If you are struggling with justifying the price, I would encourage you to check out the many Infusionsoft success stories and tutorials that I have published. In each, you will hear an entrepreneur describe how Infusionsoft has had a huge impact on their business.

The other drawback with Infusionsoft is that the application, due to its much vaster array of capabilities, requires more learning to attain proficiency. The good news is that Infusionsoft’s free training material is excellent, as is their support department. Plus, their new visual campaign builder has dramatically simplified the user experience. When people see the campaign builder for the first time, their response is generally something like “wow!” or “that is totally awesome!!”.

In addition to these two resources, there are also an army of Infusionsoft Certified Consultants who would be happy to assist you. My wife being one of them :)

Obviously, no system is perfect and prior to choosing which one is right for your business, a thorough investigation must be done. Hopefully, if you are trying to decide if you should choose Infusionsoft or Aweber, this post has been helpful to you.

If you have additional questions, please use the comment form below and I promise to provide you with a prompt answer.

Additional Resources


If you are a marketing consultant or run a marketing agency and are thinking of purchasing Infusionsoft, I’d like to let you know that if you use my affiliate link, I can have Infusionsoft give you a copy of a full campaign that I created just for agencies. You can see this campaign here.

In addition, I have also created an extensive library of tutorial videos and interviews with highly successful Infusionsoft users that you will likely find incredibly valuable.

And finally, if you have questions, please contact me directly.

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Lifecycle-Marketing-Guide

Attn Marketing Agencies: Put Client Attraction on Auto-Pilot

What do you traditionally do with the leads that you capture? I am assuming that most of you will call them or send them an email. If they don’t respond, you will call them again or send them another email. If they don’t respond again, you will probably call them again or send them another email.

Now, here’s the real question. What do you do next?

If you are like most agencies, you stop trying to contact the prospect and the lead ends up in the trash.

Do you realize how much business you potentially throw away every single day? Imagine the impact on your business if you could convert an extra 10% of the leads that go in the trash.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to nurture your prospects?

followupstats-1

It’s because 81% of your sales happen after you make seven or more contacts to your prospects. Seven contacts! How many of you can honestly tell me you attempt to make seven or more contacts to your prospects.

Please don’t feel bad because 85% of the time, we stop after 1 to 2 contacts.

Have you ever wondered the cost of not making the additional 4 to 5 contacts to each of your prospects? (For the answer to that, check out this post.)

The reason most people don’t stay in touch this often is because they simply forget, or, it’s just too much work. This is where marketing automation can really help.

In the video below, I will give you a walk through of a complete client attraction marketing campaign built specifically for marketing agencies and local marketing consultants.

In this video you will see how I’ve automated:

  • Webinar invitations
  • Webinar follow up
  • Sale opportunity management
  • Long term prospect nurturing
  • and more…

Client Attraction on Auto-Pilot

Get this Marketing Funnel for FREE

As you’ve seen in the video above, Infusionsoft is an incredibly powerful tool for marketing automation. It also does a LOT of other very valuable things…but if I showed them all, the video would have been a few days long :)

One of the challenges with Infusionsoft is that when you first get your account set up, it doesn’t come with any pre-built campaigns or content. This means that new users must create all their own and this can take some time.

To help with that, any marketing agencies or marketing consultants that wish to use my affiliate link to sign up for Infusionsoft will receive a copy of the campaign that you saw in the video above, plus a copy of my engagement campaign, and the webinar slides.

Trust me when I say, I will be saving you a lot of time. You will not have to manually re-create anything. Instead, Infusionsoft’s tech support team will simply copy my prebuilt campaigns into your app. No muss, no fuss. Just instant results.

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Lifecycle-Marketing-Guide

Lifecycle Marketing Case Study: The Rocket Company

The following case study was written by Andrea Parker of Infusionsoft

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The essence of successful business is targeting a consumer need and providing an excellent solution. It is through these solutions we find new ways to do business, interact with one another, carry out our daily lives and allow our own dreams to flourish. The goal of Infusionsoft is to help small businesses succeed by giving them the solutions they need and helping to foster their growth, so that they can make a difference in the lives of their customers.

In 2010, Infusionsoft wanted to find the best of the best and launched the Ultimate Marketer contest to see which of their customers uses their web-based sales and marketing software in the most effective and creative ways possible. Now, the contest features well over 50 entries. Applicants must fill out a lengthy application that asks for the company’s background story, software implementation process, examples of successful and creative marketing campaigns through each of the seven stages of Lifecycle Marketing, as well as the difference Infusionsoft has made in both business and personal lives.

After reviewing the submissions for 2013, Infusionsoft’s panel of judges selected three finalists, each of which presented on-stage during InfusionCon, Infusionsoft’s annual user conference. Conference attendees voted online and the 2013 Ultimate Marketer Winner was announced: The Rocket Company.

Casey Graham and Michael Lukaszewski founded GivingRocket.com in 2010, which evolved into The Rocket Company. They are a self-proclaimed “scrappy” endeavor that leverages technology for exponential growth in the information marketing realm. The Rocket Company’s mission is simple: to provide the best coaching and resources for church leaders, and through core coaching programs, stand-alone products and free resources, to equip the local church to accomplish its mission.

Like any business, The Rocket Company wants its customers to succeed, and by providing a variety of quality products and services that are customized to fit their customers’ budget and need, they have established a strong business foundation. It is, however, through the detailed and comprehensive marketing efforts of their products and services that the Rocket Company has found their success and helped churches succeed by providing solutions for church communities looking to solve the problem of having more vision than available funds.

By adhering to the seven stages of Lifecycle Marketing, the Rocket Company has grown 832% in its short lifespan. More importantly, Graham and Lukaszewski’s vision for helping others succeed has been realized.

Read on to discover the secrets of effective marketing in any stage of the Lifecycle, with real-life examples from The Rocket Company’s own success story.
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Attract Interest

Attract leads to your website with great content like e-books, infographics, research reports, webinars and blog posts.

rcBlogThe Rocket Company attracts attention and traffic to their website in a variety of ways, such as an offer of a free report, webinar, free event and a pre-written thank you for donors. They also utilize a blog as a conversion tool for getting people into their sales funnel. They provide useful “how to” blog posts and actionable marketing information that can be used in the church community, and sometimes elsewhere.

If you want your company’s blog to grow a strong readership, you have to make sure that the content you provide is not only of value, but is posted often. Frequency of post often directly correlates with the amount of traffic your blog receives, so follow The Rocket Company’s lead and make sure you’re posting at least several times per week; otherwise, content gets stale and readers will seek their information from other sources.

While having regular readers and rising traffic is never a bad thing, you need to take those blog readers to the next step, which involves a little more vested interest in your company and the services or products that you provide. Your business should always present prospective customers with the opportunity to provide their personal information in exchange for another lead magnet.

Attracting interest also shines in the form of offering a variety of lead magnets. These magnets can be anything from an e-book or whitepaper to a free webinar or instructional video. The Rocket Company features an opt-in box in their blog’s top right margin that asks for a first name and email address. In return, customers receive a free report on the five systems every church should have.

rclead-magnet
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Capture Leads

Encourage leads to sign up to receive your content. Be sure to include opt-in language in your web form.

giving-rocketEvents, especially free events, present an excellent opportunity to capture leads. Those who attend—whether it’s virtual or live— have either signed up online in advance or will sign up the day of, which means contact information accompanies each of the attendees automatically. By providing content-rich, world-class events with big names in the industry, The Rocket Company is able to reach tens of thousands of people at a time.

Webinars are an extremely popular way to capture lead information. Their benefit is two-fold: they can either be done live and engage participants with Q & A throughout, or they can be prerecorded and presented in a controlled environment.

This all lends itself to accelerating the sales process, but it also insures contact information capture for your company. When the webinar is complete, you can use the replay at a later date as another form of a lead magnet. Webinars do not require an intense amount of work and preparation, though they do share a great amount of information with viewers and give insight into your business’s level of expertise.

The Rocket Company is able to capture a large amount of leads outside of their website by leveraging their relationships with individuals and organizations that are willing to send emails to their lists on their behalf. People who receive those emails already trust the sender, so when a message comes from a them about The Rocket Company, it serves as an endorsement and recipients are far more likely to look into The Rocket Company’s website and services.

Relationship marketing is a very useful technique, so long as those you partner with are reliable and trustworthy. Email recipients want the assurance that what you or your partners are trying to sell them is legitimate and useful.
lcm-is-divider

Nurture Prospects

Create a consistent campaign of useful information and offers with automated, personalized follow-up messages.

Once lead information has been captured, your company needs to make sure it is being proactive and nurturing this new prospect, otherwise all of your marketing efforts to get leads through the door will be for nothing. This stage of the Lifecycle is important because you’ll have to classify your new lead based on your perception of their interest in your company and place them into a nurture sequence that moves at a comfortable rate for them.

The Rocket Company understands that everyone has unique needs, and a business can’t treat one new lead just like every other one. If your new prospect feels like just another person in the sales funnel, they won’t feel special and will likely ask to be removed from your mailing list, which is the kiss of death for any business.

When a new contact enters The Rocket Company’s funnel, they are placed into a warm-up sequence geared toward the area of interest they signed up for, which also tags them as having requested specific information (preaching, giving, etc.).

This warm-up sequence introduces people to The Rocket Company and gently shows them how the company’s products can help them in a way that meets their needs. The sequence is set up to deliver seven emails over 30 days with valuable content that helps recipients become better leaders. The ratio of helpful content to CTA is about
80/20. The first few emails provide extra value and deliver what the recipient asked for and more.

rcnuruturesequenceOnce prospects have completed the warm up sequence, they are placed in the nurture sequence that adds a lot of value while also selling products and coaching services. This is typically one email per week that provides helpful content that drives recipients to a resource or coaching program.

It is important that this sequence really fosters trust in your company’s relationship with the prospective customer as well as making them feel like you have their interest at heart.

The Rocket Company says that as their sequences proceed, emails become more targeted towards the core coaching program. The percentage of help and CTA of 80/20 flips by the end of the two sequences, which don’t even feel like sequences since the information is based so heavily around helping people. The emails all have a very similar flavor, but there is just a difference in time of delivery.

Your company should be sure it is segmenting its communication with leads based on what people are interested in (which lead magnet they signed up to receive) by using tags and action steps based on their behavior. If someone has already purchased a product, don’t clutter up inboxes with sales emails about the same product.
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Convert Sales

Turn browsers into buyers with e-commerce tools and a well-defined lead management strategy.

Turning leads into customers all happens in one little step, but it is arguably the most important step of the Lifecycle. Up until this point, your business has been using all of the marketing tools in its arsenal, and it’s time to go in for the hard sell—though this can be tricky. You don’t want to overwhelm and bombard your customer with direct, flashy pitches; that style can be too aggressive and actually turn your customers away from buying from you. However, you do want to ensure a purchase.

One way to get your potential customer’s attention focused on your business is through use of subtle cues or “by-the-way” selling. This is an indirect mention of the products. It’s not straightforward; rather, it’s more subliminal, and you are able to hit mental triggers with people.

For example, The Rocket Company mentions products or services in blog posts and readers get to consume a quality blog post as well as a call to action.

While the subtle “by-the-way” strategy is not the most effective sales pitch, you don’t feel like you’re bombarding your prospect and you can layer this less invasive tactic and use it often. Directly marketing your services and products to consumers allows you to be upfront about your company’s offerings and, at times, interaction with leads will give them the final push to close the deal.

Occasional posts in a members forum where you use a link can be effective as well. The goal is to get readers to click through to a sales page on your company’s website that will take them to either an order form or a store product.

The Rocket Company has a proven track record of in-person sales at their live events because people can interact with Graham and Lukaszewski and have any questions they have about the product answered immediately.

rcconvertsales

Sometimes, however, a gentle nudge towards a sale is necessary, and that’s when your business can offer a promotion. Nothing gets people moving like a time-sensitive offer, like a structured three-day sale or limited registration for an event. The Rocket Company utilizes their online events to convert leads into customers. They also choose to promote their offers, specials and events through email communication, website, social media and referral partners so that all bases are covered and they don’t miss an opportunity to convert a sale.
lcm-is-divider

Deliver and Satisfy

Fulfill your commitments on-time, then provide additional value that surprises and delights customers.

Sometimes delivering a product or service just isn’t enough and customers need a little something extra to feel fully content with their purchase. It is at that moment that customer service becomes critical to the process and experience. Once a sale has been made, a customer wants to know that they are valued by your business and that if they need you, you’ll be there for them. They also want follow-up, even if they don’t say it.

One of the easiest ways to follow up with a new customer is to send a thank you email that not only lets them know you appreciate their purchase, but that your company is available to meet their needs and that you value their feedback. Also, reiterating the benefits of your product or service in that first follow-up email helps to cut down on that pesky feeling of buyer’s remorse that can tend to crop up. If you provide a service over time, make sure that your emails are connecting with your customers and asking for feedback along the way can be helpful and enlightening. By including questions those customers can respond to, you begin a conversation with them, and this allows you to fine tune the way your business interacts with its customers, as well as how it handles those inevitable bumps in the road.

When said bump arises, you want to make sure you respond quickly, effectively and through the medium in which you were contacted. If a customer is upset about a particular issue and tweets about it, make sure you’re tweeting back and engaging them so that you can work out the problem. The Rocket Company makes it a point to respond as fast as possible to customer issues, look for key phrases that may indicate a larger problem and own up to the issue.

For example, if someone complains online that The Rocket Company is selling too hard at an event, Graham loves to reach out to each customer individually to handle the issue because it always makes a person feel like they matter when the CEO is connecting with them personally. It also helps in winning over that customer when their problem is handled from the top down because it humanizes the company and allows others to see that if something is wrong, it will be made right, not ignored.

rocketcompanytweet

An excellent way to set the bar high for customer service is by being proactive and over delivering on your promises. Don’t wait until there is an issue; make sure you customer is satisfied and that they are getting even more than what they signed up for, as this glowing review of your business will inevitably be passed along to others.

The Rocket Company likes to send its new customers a box of swag. Recipients are delighted when they open up the unexpected package, so they often tweet pictures of the gear to say thanks. Both the new customers’ followers and The Rocket Company’s followers see the tweets, so the positivity spread online very quickly.

Keep in mind that being proactive in satisfying your customers is not just about the tchotchkes in the beginning. It’s about making sure your customer is having your business’ ultimate customer experience in the long term. Be sure you are sending out personalized emails that let customers know that you are there to serve them and that you are available, and don’t forget the impact a hand-written note can have on a customer. Many businesses have become too impersonal by doing all business and communications, but the human element that is absent can quickly be recaptured if you simply take a moment to let you customer know you care.

Develop a long-term strategy, tactics, products and services to help generate additional sales and recurring revenue over time.

One of the best ways to grow your business is through the upsell. If a customer is at the end of the sales cycle and has another product recommended to them based on their current purchase, you can bet most people will at least pause and consider the benefits of the recommended product.

Customers who receive emails thanking them for subscribing to or downloading a lead magnet might be delighted to find a “special one-time discount” on products or services. It is in these moments that a customer who may have been wavering on another product based on pricing or timing is pushed over the edge and into the sale.

A company knows its best-selling products or services, so it never hurts to highlight or promote that product in the shopping cart page because that product just may work for the customer!

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If a person signs up for an event or a lead magnet, why not offer them a free gift?

Often, your business can figure out which free gift or service will work best for you, as well as for the prospective customer, and that can lead to larger sales numbers because it gives that lead a taste of what your company has to offer.

For businesses that offer higher priced goods and services, payment plans can be very helpful for customers. By highlighting the more expensive product or service in comparison to what is currently in a customer’s shopping cart, the customer gains insight into how a pricier product or service may benefit them even more.

Your business can also offer add-on services or products that only some customer are eligible for, as add-on services or products offered in the shopping cart are particularly successful due to key placement.

Do be sure to tag your new customers based on their purchase history, as this help to tailor the content and offers in your follow up sequence. If you have a new product that would be a good fit for a current customer in a particular purchase category, all you have to do is make sure the appropriate email is sent to them and the likelihood of a purchase from a satisfied customer receiving an email offer “just for them” is instantly elevated.
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Get Referrals

Encourage referrals by encouraging and creating incentives for customers and partners.

If you have a friend who is looking for a service provider and you’ve had a great experience somewhere, you will probably provide a recommendation to that friend and expect that they will have a similar experience, right? Many small businesses with marketing and advertising budgets to match get a bulk of their business by word of mouth, so you can imagine how important it is to be sure your customers enjoy their experience with you at the time or purchase and beyond. To promote your event in a very easy way, try integrating customers’ registration for an event with social media so they can easily click to share on twitter and Facebook. Your upcoming event will get much more exposure this way.

rc-get-referralsReferrals can come as simply as asking a happy customer to forward an email about a free event to introduce more people to the company. The person who forwards this email is not asking their friend to buy anything, but simply come to a free event and see what it’s all about.

There doesn’t always have to be an incentive for the referrer, but if your business needs to entice some customers to become repeat customers, your company should consider creating an incentive program for referrals.

Happy customers are more likely to send friends and family to your front door (real or virtual). This can mean something as simple as offering 10% off a product for a referral or a free service from your company. This is a very small cost to absorb to gain a new customer.

To accelerate the referral process, your company can create a partner program that gives higher-volume, reputable referral partners a certain amount of kickback for their referrals. These partners know and believe in your product or service, and with the ability to answer questions and sell your company’s product, they are ideal people to be “out in the field” when you must tend to your business. If a mutually agreeable deal can be worked out, referral partners can do a lot of the customer finding legwork for your business.

Make sure to form strong relationships with people in the industry and try asking for people to refer business to you. No matter what, you must always ask for referrals and you can return the favor to those acquaintances when the opportunity arises.

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Lifecycle-Marketing-Guide

3 Ways to Capture More Leads

Are you struggling to increase your firm’s revenue? Are you losing out on price? Do you still ask your sales reps to make cold calls to prospects?

If so, you are not alone. In fact, the vast majority of small business owners really struggle when it comes to lead generation.

If you want to experience predictable revenue growth in your agency or small business, you are going to need to master the second step of Lifecycle Marketing: Capturing Leads.

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you 3 lead generation ideas that you can immediately put to use in your business.

Way #1: Use a Squeeze Page

A squeeze page is nothing more than a page that (ideally) has just one call to action – although some companies do leave other navigation options in place.

In the case of BrightIdeas.co, our squeeze page has a single call to action: enter your email to get a copy of our Massive Traffic Toolkit.

Lead Generation Ideas

In the case of Iron Tribe Fitness, they have actually created an entirely separate site, called IronTribe101.com.

irontribe101

In both cases, the main function of the page is to capture the contact information of the visitor so that you can begin to nurture them towards becoming a buyer.

While I don’t have access to the conversion statistics for Iron Tribe, I can tell you the page above is (currently) the #1 source of new email addresses for Bright Ideas.

How to Make a Squeeze Page

Use a Theme: If you are using WordPress, you have several options for creating squeeze pages. The first, is to pick a theme that supports them. A theme that I use for this is called Pagelines (affiliate link). The reason that I like this theme is that a non-technical user (me!) can eliminate the navigation bar, head, footer, and sidebars just by unchecking a box within the page settings.

pagelines-page-settings

Use a Plugin: If you already use a theme that you like and you don’t want to go through the pain of switching, then I’d suggest you use the Instabuilder (affiliate link) plugin for WordPress.

The beauty of the Instabuilder plugin is that you can create a fully optimized landing page regardless of which theme you are using. To turn any page into a landing page, all you need to do is to configure the Instabuilder pages settings as I’ve shown in the screenshot below.

This is an extremely powerful plugin that comes with all sorts of pre-made templates, so if you aren’t sure exactly what to create, they’ve made it really easy for you to get started.

instabuilder-settings

Once you have selected all your settings, the landing page will be ready to go. In the screenshot below is a page that I created for Liz and I’s wedding invitation. As you can see, this page has no navigation and even some Facebook integration. All of this was made possible by the Instabuilder plugin.

wedding-invitation

Way #2: Use a Pop Up

Say what you want about pop-ups, but the truth remains – they work.

On the Bright Ideas site, we are using a plugin called Pippity (affiliate link) for our pop up. Popup Domination (affiliate link) is another very popular plugin that you may want to have a look at.

Here at Bright Ideas, our Pippity popup is virtually tied with our squeeze page for the number of leads we capture.

The reason that I like Pippity is because it allows me to create plenty of different versions of the popup. The best converting version (so far) is the one you see below.

Pippity-Popup

In addition to allowing me to create more than one version, Pippity also gives me conversion stats and allows me to split test on versions against another.

Speaking of split testing…

Way #3: Split Test to Improve Results

Now that I’ve shown you two ways to easily capture more leads, I want to touch on something that you’d be foolish to avoid, and that is split testing.

Virtually every time I’ve created a squeeze page, I’ve been able to increase my conversion rate substantially by split testing one version against another.

For example, on the BrightIdeas.co home page, I used to have a video displayed where the big yellow box is. Intuitively, I thought that video, due to its (supposed) increased level of engagement, would have the best conversion rate possible.

split-testing-results-bi-home-pageI was wrong!

Once I split tested the static image of the box, along with subtle changes to the copy, I realized that the second version of the landing page had a conversion rate that was nearly twice what I was getting from my original attempt.

While video does have terrific engagement, using it for this particular squeeze page was ineffective. Had I not been split testing, I would have never discovered this huge opportunity.

To put this in perspective, to achieve the same increase in optins, I would have had to nearly double the traffic to the home page, which without using paid traffic, would not be easy to do!

Hey, thanks for the info. Now what?

If you need any help with content creation, we have tons of free resources to get you over the hump. Please subscribe to this blog to ensure that you never miss an article.

Have questions or comments? Please contact me.

If you really enjoyed this post, please help us to spread the word by clicking one of the social media sharing buttons.

Thanks so much!

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Lifecycle-Marketing-Guide

Are You a Follow Up Failure?

What do you traditionally do with the leads that you capture? I am assuming that most of you will call them or send them an email. If they don’t respond, you will call them again or send them another email. If they don’t respond again, you will probably call them again or send them another email.

Now, here’s the real question. What do you do next? Because, if you are like most small business people, you stop trying to contact the prospect and it ends up in the trash. Do you realize how much business you potentially throw away every single day? Imagine the impact on your business if you could convert an extra 10% of the leads that go in the trash.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to nurture your prospects?

followupstats-1It’s because 81% of your sales happen after you make seven or more contacts to your prospects. Seven contacts! How many of you can honestly tell me you attempt to make seven or more contacts to your prospects.

Please don’t feel bad because 85% of the time, we stop after 1 to 2 contacts.

Have you ever wondered the cost of not making the additional 4 to 5 contacts to each of your prospects?

Here is a very good example that will help identify the cost of not nurturing.

Let’s say you do a campaign to 10,000 people. This could be by email, direct mail, etc. Out of those 10,000 people, 100 people say they are interested in your product or service. Out of those 100 people, 10 people end up buying your product or service.

I’m assuming many of you would be thrilled by closing 10% of the people that were interested in your product or service.

10customersThe question I always like to ask is: what happens to the other 90 responders? Most of them fall through the cracks, have zero follow-up, or will end up buying from your competitors.

In other words, most of these 90 responders will end up in the trash.

What if, on the other hand, you had a way to easily stay in touch with them? What if it was automated?

What if this system allowed you to convert 15, 20, or 25 people instead of just 10? How much of an impact do you think all that extra profit would have on your business?

25customersIt would be huge, wouldn’t it?

That’s what I’m talking about! If you aren’t systematizing the lead nurturing process, you could be leaving thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars of profit on the table…for someone else’s business to grab.

Now, that’s just not good business!

As you can see, the key to great nurturing is with AMAZING follow up. This is where so many business people drop the ball. They are great at making lots of contacts and connections but they lack the skills necessary to follow up properly.

This is why most business people need a specific campaign or path to follow to deliver the right follow up.

Three Basic Follow Up Campaigns

There are three basic follow up campaigns that will help most businesses.

  • New Lead Campaign – to be used when you capture a new lead and want to nurture them until they are ready to buy
  • New Customer Campaign – to be used after a customer purchases your product or service so you can work on repeat sales, up-sales and referrals
  • Long-Term Nurture Campaign – to be used for those people that aren’t really interested in your product or service but you still want to follow up with them over a period of time.

If you’re curious what one of these campaigns looks like, please take a look at the diagram below.

Screenshot from Infusionsoft's Campaign Builder

Screenshot from Infusionsoft’s Campaign Builder

This is a typical lifecycle marketing campaign. Starting on the left, you can see how this company plans on attracting traffic to their business. They plan on doing this through blogging, Facebook, their website and organic marketing.

They will be offering something free as their lead magnet.

They will then enter the customer into a new lead campaign that will send information about their product or service to educate the customer until they are ready to purchase.

From here, either the customer purchases the product or service online or they will be added to a long term nurture that will provide them consistent information until, sometime in the future, they will hopefully be ready to purchase a product or service.

Once they make the purchase online they are entered into a new customer campaign which will provide them with information to encourage repeat sales and to upsell them on other products and services.

As you can see, this campaign is a easy (and easy to replicate) follow up system. Best of all, we do all of this automatically!

What does this mean for small business owners?

It means you get to spend less time on worrying about your marketing and more time working on growing your business.

It means that emails, white papers, videos, etc. are sent out to the right people at the right time without you thinking about it.

It means that fewer of your leads will fall through the cracks and more of your prospects will become customers.

It means that you are generating the maximum amount of sales from each of your customers and generating the amount of referrals necessary to reach a higher level of success.

Doesn’t this sound like the kind of business you always dreamed of owning? With an automated follow up system like Infusionsoft, this can become your reality.

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Lifecycle-Marketing-Guide

28 Ways to Use PR to Drive Traffic to Your Website

The following article is a guest post by By Nancy Marshall, Principal, Nancy Marshall Communications.

I started doing public relations in the 1980s when we used a mimeograph machine to copy our press releases and then mailed them out in envelopes with postage stamps on them.  Today we distribute them by email and share them on social networks.  Have we come a long way since then or what?

The power of the internet to massively increase our public relations footprint has grown exponentially since the 1980s and is still growing every day. The challenge is to leverage the power of the internet with a well thought-out strategic plan that includes defining our messages, defining our audiences and figuring out the best methods to connect our messages with our audiences. Just because we have the ability to email a press release to thousands of journalists doesn’t mean that we should do so. That’s why it’s important to have a PR plan before you start spinning your wheels generating content and randomly disseminating it everywhere.

Today, I am going to share my 28 ideas about how to use PR to drive traffic to your website. Each and every day, the most important thing is to keep your website at the top of your own mind so you can explore new ways to share your web address. At the same time, be sure to keep your website content up to date, because the search engines do not want to send people to a site that is outdated or irrelevant.

Always be thinking about how to improve your site by adding new content that is remarkable, and watching the Google Analytics to see how people are using your site.  The bounce rate is a key indicator as to whether your site is appealing to visitors or not.  If you are spending time and money to send people to your site and they are immediately clicking away, you have a serious problem that needs to be corrected before you send more visitors to the site.

There are two main ways to generate traffic to your site:  attracting them by having the optimized key words, and sending them there by having links from other sites or listing the URL on printed pieces. In this article, I’m going to address both: attracting visitors and driving visitors to your website.

Here are my 28 ideas, and I’m sure you’ll have plenty of your own ideas once you get the creative juices flowing!

  1. Press releases sent to business publications and shows on TV and radio, including a link to your website. Make sure you are announcing something newsworthy such as hiring a new employee, or winning an award, or making a speech at a significant trade show or conference.   Also make sure you are targeting the kind of media that will be interested in your press release.  Business publications will be interested in business announcements, for example.
  2. Press releases are great, but it’s even better if you can use a press release to get a journalist to do a feature story on you or your business.  A feature story is an article in a newspaper or a magazine, or a story on radio or TV that will ideally include a link to your site. If there is no link, some people will still become more interested in you and Google search you. Either way, feature stories are a great way to tell your story in the media and raise your profile. In order to get a feature, you need to send a very good press release to the right reporter, editor or producer and pique their interest in the story you have to tell. Usually, you also need to place a follow up phone call to pitch your idea.  In the tourism industry, getting a story in the Sunday Travel Section of a major newspaper is a major coup. Typically these stories include what we call a “service bar” which is a sidebar that includes all the contact info including phone number, postal address, physical address and web address.
  3. Your business cards, letterheads and other printed materials should always include your web address. You might even consider having a QR code with a direct link to your site. That’s what we do on our business cards at Nancy Marshall Communications.
  4. Make sure your email signature includes a link to your website. You’d be amazed how many people will click through after they read your email message!
  5. Branded giveaways are a great way to literally put your web address on peoples’ walls (calendars), in their hands (pens and pencils), on their desks (calculators, thumb drives and coffee mugs) or in their cars (travel mugs, ice scrapers).  I have a wall calendar from my chiropractor that I look at every day, and it reminds me to contact him if my neck or back start feeling out of whack.
  6. Trade shows are an ideal place to promote your website. The web address should be prominently displayed on your trade show booth and in all your promotional materials. If you are exhibiting at a trade show, there will be members of the media in attendance. Frequently there will be a media room at the show where you can leave press kits or giveaways such as pens, water bottles and coffee mugs. Make sure your web address is on every single item that you give away at trade shows.
  7. Speaking engagements at Rotary, Kiwanis and Chamber meetings as well as college classes are an ideal place to talk about your website and give out the web address. If you are using a PowerPoint presentation, include the web address on every slide.  Every time I do a speaking engagement, I write a press release about my appearance and send it to the local media, which is yet another opportunity to include a link to my website.
  8. Guest posts on other peoples’ blogs (like this one that you are reading now!) are a great place to provide a link to your site.  I also have a blog at www.maineprmaven.com, which is another site that I promote whenever possible.
  9. Submit your blog posts to social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, Stumbleupon and Digg.
  10. Take advantage of local search.  Google + Local are a great ways to make your site more findable by local audiences.
  11. Produce videos to be posted on YouTube including keyword-rich text descriptions. YouTube is great place to include a link to your site. Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine next to Google? That’s because people love to watch videos when they want to know how to do something or they want to know about something.  As a society, we are reading less than ever, unfortunately. Your third grade teacher would be disappointed that you would prefer to watch a video to learn something new rather than going to the library to get a book about it.
  12. Guest opinion columns in the newspaper about relevant timely topics can include a biographical backgrounder on you as the author, including a link to your website.
  13. Facebook posts on your own page and on other peoples’ pages can include a link to your site, but be careful.  You need to interact with others in a very human way, and not always be promoting to your own site, or people will see right through what you’re doing. A mix of posts that are social and human, along with one post a week with a link to your own site will work. My strategic partner Stephen Woessner’s book, ‘Increase Online Sales through Viral Social Marketing,’ (available at amazon.com) lays out an exact formula for the balance between social posts and promotional posts.
  14. Pinterest is a fast-growing social network, particularly among women. If you pin an interesting photo on one of your Pinterest boards that links back to your site, people will click through to see where that photo came from. For example, I saw this wonderful photo on Pinterest of a breakfast at a Maine B&B, The Pomegranate Inn in Portland, Maine. I was curious about it, so I clicked through to their website, which is equally wonderful to look at, and I thought to myself that I would like to go there someday soon (especially since my PR agency handles PR for the Maine Office of Tourism!)
  15. Twitter is a great place to include links to your site, although you might want to use them as ow.ly links so you can reduce the number of characters. (Google  the term “ow links” for an explanation if you are unfamiliar.)
  16. Use Instagram to drive traffic from photos to your site. Be sure to completely fill out the online profile to close the loop from your photos back to your website.
  17. LinkedIn is a great place to establish yourself as an expert, and to make important professional connections.  You can list your web address right in your LinkedIn profile.
  18. Event sponsorship allows you to create banners and give branded giveaways promoting your business name and web address to a targeted audience. Consider a business-to-business trade show, an arts performance, a sporting event, or even the walls at your local Major League Baseball or even the Little League stadium. Align the sponsorship with your targeted audience.
  19. Charitable donations position you as a responsible and philanthropic neighbor. When you make a donation, the charity will help you promote your business in their event programs, their annual giving guides or in thank-you speeches at their annual meetings.  We work with the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville, Maine as a client, and I donate to them throughout the year. They are sure to promote my URL, www.marshallpr.com, whenever possible.
  20. If you are in the business of building websites for others, be sure to include a link back to your own website at the bottom of the home page. We build websites for businesses and nonprofits of all kinds, and we always embed a link on the home page of every one.
  21. Put your web address on your clothing:  logoed clothing is a great way to build your wardrobe, whether it’s on the front of a golf shirt, a hoodie sweatshirt, a baseball cap or a ski hat.  Give fleece vests emblazoned with your logo and URL to all your employees. They will wear it with pride and promote your web address everywhere they go.
  22. Ask the CEO of your company to write an article (or offer to ghostwrite for him or her) to post on a blog or submit to the local newspaper or business journal. If you’re the CEO, try to make this a regular practice. Be sure to include a bio at the end of the article with a link to your website.  Post the article on your own company’s blog too, because it will be rich in keywords.
  23. Create infographics and post on social media sites. Infographics are all the rage right now as an easy, graphical place to explain a concept. You will need a professional graphic designer to create them, and you can either hire a designer to serve on your staff or outsource to a freelancer.  There are freelancers available online through sites like 99designs.com that can create infographics cost effectively. People are more likely to share infographics than other types of content through social networks. Be sure to include your website address and company name in the infographic and post it on your website, as well as sharing it on Facebook, Pinterest and other social networks.
  24. Network with influencers the old-fashioned way at trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings and conferences. Meet people in person, exchange business cards, then connect with them on social media in order to maintain the relationship until you see them again. The more influential people who you link with on LinkedIn, or friend on Facebook, or follow on Twitter, the better.  They call this practice “pressing the flesh,” and it is, in my opinion, the best possible way to create meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
  25. Generate links back to your site from websites that have ‘authority,’ such as college and university sites and governmental sites, by figuring out ways to post content or get articles written with links to your site. Google and other search engines consider the ‘authority’ of websites when viewing the links to your site. If a site with a great deal of authority links to your site, that’s like an endorsement of your site, so it’s a good thing.
  26. Create an e-newsletter and constantly build your list. We publish “The NMC Report” once a month, no matter how busy we are with other commitments. We include tips and techniques that are easily implemented by our readers, who are typically small business owners or marketing officers for companies and nonprofits.  We make it easy to sign up for the e-newsletter on our website and we are constantly gathering names at trade shows and conferences. This list is valuable to our business because these are people who don’t mind having us market ourselves to them. Every single time we send out an e-newsletter, we see a spike in our web traffic because we include links throughout the e-news back to our website.  We use Mail Chimp but we also recommend Constant Contact.
  27. Share your PowerPoint presentations and other slide decks to sites like Slideshare and Scribd.   This is a fantastic way to position yourself or someone from your organization as an expert and to generate a quality link back to your website.
  28. Build a rock-solid reputation to generate word of mouth. The #1 absolute best way to drive traffic to your website is to do great work so people will refer you to others. This is, by far, the most powerful form of marketing and public relations. 

Nancy Marshall, also known as The Maine PR Maven, has been practicing PR professionally for 30 years. She owns Nancy Marshall Communications, an agency in Augusta, Maine specializing in producing and implementing strategic marketing communications plans, called The Marshall Plan™. Her agency blog is at www.maineprmaven.com, and her agency’s website is at www.marshallpr.com. Nancy was the 2011 winner of the Edward L. Bernays Award from the Maine Public Relations Council for the state’s most accomplished PR professional. She is married and has two sons who are accomplished ski racers. 

What Do You Think?

Was this article helpful? If so, please share it by clicking one of the social sharing buttons on the left. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below. Thanks very much!

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4 Steps to Keyword Research Success

As was clearly demonstrated in my interview with Marcus Sheridan, proper keyword selection is critical to the success of your content marketing strategy.

The ability to properly select keywords is also a huge part of how any firm can create a sustainable competitive advantage for themselves. How, you ask?

Think about this for a moment…your products and services can be copied by other firms. However, SEO is not easy to copy and keyword research is the the second step to SEO and content marketing success. (The first step is picking your target market.)

The problem for many entrepreneurs who are new to content marketing is that they don’t have a methodology for proper keyword research. Not having a system in place either leads to a flawed strategy, or, even worse, no strategy at all.

In this post, I’m going to provide you with an overview of the keyword research process, and then I’m going to dive deep into exactly how I do my own keyword research, so grab a cup of java and get ready to see an approach that differs from many that are published on other sites.

Ready? Good, let’s get on with it!

Understanding the Long Tail

Proper keyword research begins with an understanding of the different types of keywords. To help illustrate that, I’ve included a chart from SEOmoz that visually explains the difference between what is called a head keyword and a long tail keyword.

keyword-research

As this illustration shows, the 70% of searches are for long tail keywords, and, unlike the Fat Head keywords that are virtually impossible to rank for, these long tail keywords are much easier to get traffic from, so long as your on page optimization is done correctly.

Another reason to target long tail keywords is because they are likely to convert better. For example, if someone is searching for “conference”, they are not nearly as likely to buy a ticket as someone searching for “marketing conference in San Diego”.

Creating a Competitive Advantage with SEO

While each long tail keyword doesn’t have a huge search volume, in aggregate, the search volume can really add up over time. To illustrate the importance of this consider the following two firms:

The first firm is an avid blogger and they target a long tail keyword with every post they write. Over a 2 year period of time, they write 300 blog posts, each targeting a keyword with just 300 exact searches per month. In aggregate, the total search volume that they are ranking for is 90,000 exact searches a month! Even better is the fact that they are highly likely to rank on the first page of Google for a good number of these keywords (assuming proper selection, which I’ll cover down below, and on-page optimization, which I’ll cover in a later post). From purely an SEO perspective, this first firm has created a very strong and highly defensible competitive advantage.

The second firm wrote the same number of posts and each post is just as high quality as the first firm, except the second firm didn’t bother to target a long tail keyword with every post they wrote. This will still receive some SEO benefit from having all this content on their blog, however, the benefit won’t be nearly as good as what it could have been, plus the traffic they receive won’t likely convert nearly as well because their content will be less likely to be relevant to the keywords it ranked for.

The steady accumulation of SEO traffic from long tail keywords is the primary reason why your content marketing strategy should be focused on long tail keywords.

Now let’s take a look at the actual process by way of a real example.

Step 1: Start with a Head Keyword

For this example, let’s assume that we want to find a keyword that is related to LinkedIn. To do that, I’m going to show you two tools: the free Google Keyword Tool and the tool I use, SECockpit (affiliate link).

First let’s start with Google’s tool. When you look at the image below (click to enlarge), pay close attention to the areas the I have highlighted in red.

When you are doing keyword research you should always choose the [Exact] match type because it it the most accurate measurement you are going to get for your phrase.

For example, Broad need only contain the words you are searching for, and they can be in any order. So, if I was searching for LinkedIn for BusinessBroad would include all searches that contained any of those words, in any order. This is hardly an accurate measurement for the word I’m researching.

Phrase is much closer in that LinkedIn for Business would have to be included in the search string somewhere and the words would have to be in the correct order. For example, searches that contained LinkedIn for Business today would be included in the total search count. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s still not as accurate as I’d like.

Exact includes ONLY the exact phrase that I’m researching, and that is why I suggest you use it.

Next, make sure you have Keyword Ideas selected.

keyword-research-with-google-keyword-tool

The reason Google’s tool is free is because it really doesn’t tell us very much. In the example above, we can see there there are (supposedly) 16,600,000 exact global monthly searches for LinkedIn. However, what this does not tell us is anything about how hard it would be to rank on the first page of Google for that keyword or any of the other related keywords that are shown down below.

This lack of SEO competition analysis is a massive limitation of this tool. Please note, the word low under the competition heading does not relate to SEO competition. Instead, it is only a measure of the amount of advertiser competition to bid for that keyword – which would only be useful if you were setting up an Adwords paid traffic campaign, hence why it is included in this tool.

Now let’s look at SECockpit and I’ll walk you though why I feel it is by far the most effective keyword research tool available on the market, and how using it is going to save you a huge amount of time.

In the image below, notice the areas that I have highlighted in red.

keyword-research-with-seockpit-1

First, across the top, notice that I can have more than one tab open. This means that I can analyze multiple keywords simultaneously. Obviously, this is a big time saver, but it’s not the best part of this tool.

Next, notice all the orange bars on the right half of the image. These bars are a measure of the strength of the SEO competition on the first page of the Google results. Having this data at your fingertips is hugely valuable because without it, how would you know which of all the keywords would be the easiest to rank for? SECockpit makes this easy by allowing you to just click on the column header to instantly sort all the related (long tail) keywords so that the ones that are easiest to rank for are at the top.

All I have to do now is to scroll down until I find the keyword that is related to my content and has a monthly exact search volume that meets my minimum acceptable amount.

Let me explain this another way so you really get the point. With every other keyword tool I’ve ever used (and that is most of them), you  have to analyze the strength of SEO competition for just one keyword at a time. That means that, in the case of this particular search example, I would have to spend approximately 1 minute to analyze each of the 170 keywords on this list.  That’s almost three hours of work to get the same data that SECockpit gave me in about 60 seconds.

Hopefully the significance of this has just registered with you. Without SECockpit, you are going to have to invest exponentially more time to get the same result. Boo.

Step 2: Find Related Keywords

Once you have completed your first round of research, you may or may not find a suitable long tail keyword to use. In all likelihood, you will, but if you don’t, expanding your search to include other phrases may also be quite helpful.

If you are using SECockpit, here’s just one way you could do that. You click the expand button and then begin typing another phrase. In the screenshot below, I started to type LinkedIn training and as I was typing, the other phrases appeared. I decided to choose LinkedIn training courses to expand my search and 30 seconds later, I now have 331 keywords that have all had their strength of SEO competition analysis all done for me.

keyword-research-secockpit

Now that I have 331 words, I want to narrow my list back down to only words that included LinkedIn so I can make a selection of which keyword I wish to make the focus of the post that I intend to write. (As a side note, this process is also a very good method for figuring out what to write about!)

keyword-research-example

To narrow down the list, I simply typed LinkedIn into the search bar at the bottom and my 331 words was reduced to 2400 words – all with the strength of SEO competition nicely represented by the orange bars so I can easily sort them from easiest to hardest. Gotta love that!

At this point, the phrase linkedin recommendation examples has caught my attention. It stood out for me because:

  • it has a relatively short orange bar, so I know SEO competition is not too hard
  • it has 2400 local exact searches per month, which for a long tail keyword is plenty
  • there is a youtube video ranked on the first page of Google

Now that we have a potential keyword (after investing only about 2 minutes), we need to do a bit of a deeper dive to check on the trend and exactly the nature of the competition that we’ll face if we try to rank for this phrase.

Step 3: Determine the Trend

To determine the trend of a keyword, you can use Google Trends, or if you are using SECockpit, this functionality is built right in and you will save some more time. To get the report in SECockpit, you just click on the keyword you are interested in.

Regardless of how you get the report, you can see in the image below that the trend in search volume for this keyword is steady, and more recently, has increased quite a bit. This is the type of trend you are looking for.

keyword-research-secockpit-review

Having invested another 5 seconds to determine that the keyword has a positive trend, it’s not time for the last step – determining the strength of the competition we’ll face.

Step 4: Determine the Strength of the Competition

This is a part of the process where inexperienced folks make some pretty big mistakes, thereby negating all the work that preceded this step. The biggest mistake is thinking that the strength of SEO competition is low because they were using the Google Adwords keyword tool and saw the word low under the competition column. As I pointed out earlier in this post, that is NOT a measure of SEO competition.

The fact that SECockpit automatically calculates this for me is the primary reason why I like the tool so much. After all, what good is it if you pick a low volume keyword that happens to have really strong competition on the first page of the Google results? Targeting a keyword like that is a total waste. Plus, if you are only using the Google Adwords keyword tool, you are never going to stumble across a higher volume keyword that happens to be new to the scene and not yet have a ton of competition. We LOVE finding nuggets like that, right?!

keyword-research-secockpit-review-3

To see the data above, all I had to do was to click the keyword I was interested in. Once I did, I was presented with this screen and I can right away see a lot of green. Green is what you are looking for because it is an indicator of weakness.

In looking at these results, I can quickly draw some important conclusions.

First, not all the sites in the results are actually targeting the exact phrase we’re looking at. I can see this by looking in the title column. Page title is extremely important for SEO.

Next, only about 1/2 of the top 10 results have mid to high domain authority. This means I have I chance to rank, and as my domain’s authority increases, my chances will get better over time.

Next, I can see that the link count for most of the sites in the top 10 is pretty low. This is also quite encouraging because if I create a really killer piece of content and then share it on my social networks, other people are quite likely to link to it for me. As time goes by, I will get more and more links, and my ranking will improve. (Hence why creating epic content is so important!)

And finally, I can see that none of my competition, with the exception of #4 (which isn’t even targeting my exact phrase) has much in the way of social sharing. If I’ve done a good job of building my LinkedIn network and am an active participant in a number of LinkedIn groups, I’ll bet I can get a lot of social shares right away just by asking people (or my list) to do it for me.

Summary

If you want to create a sustainable competitive advantage for your company, as well as to turn lead generation into a systematized process, you need to invest in content marketing.

A huge part of your content marketing strategy should be to create content that targets long tail keywords. Doing so will, over time, provide you with an ever increasing source of free traffic from search engines.

The key to getting keyword research right is to use tools that allow you to quickly and easily find high value keywords that have SEO competition low enough to make it probable that you will rank for them. SECockpit is by far the bets tool that I have ever used for this. Using it will save you hours upon hours of boring research.

Once you find your potential keyword, check to ensure that the trend for the search volume is steady or increasing, and finally, have a close look at the strength of the competition for those coveted first 10 slots in the Google search results.

When you find a keyword that passes all these tests, you have just taken a step towards more traffic, more subscribers and more revenue!

It all starts with keyword research.

What Do You Think?

Was this article helpful? If so, please share it by clicking one of the social sharing buttons on the left. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below. Thanks very much!

Want to write for Bright Ideas? Click here.

Hey, thanks for the info. Now what?

If you need any help with content creation, we have tons of free resources to get you over the hump. Please subscribe to this blog to ensure that you never miss an article.

Have questions or comments? Please contact me.

If you really enjoyed this post, please help us to spread the word by clicking one of the social media sharing buttons.

Thanks so much!

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How to Get Management Support for Content Marketing

If you aren’t the boss and your company is not yet actively engaged in content marketing, chances are you are going to need to convince someone higher up the chain that this newfangled “content marketing stuff” is actually worth the time and investment.

For the folks that speak “ROI”, this guide from Eloqua will likely be very helpful (warning: optin required to download it) as it goes into plenty of detail on all the metrics that the C-suite could ever want to see.

Below are a few snippets from the report that I liked. Then, below that, I’m going to link you to some interviews that I’ve done with real live folks that are walking, talking proof that content marketing has worked remarkably well for them.

Don’t forget to check out our very own content management system.

Eloqua’s Findings

According to Eloqua’s findings, a mid-sized organization should expect to spend approximately $12,000 a month and a larger-sized company could expect about $33,000 a month. These costs would be inclusive of the Managing Editor, Chief Content Officer (for larger organizations), the freelancers to actually write the 2 blog posts per week (estimate to cost $150 per post), and $2,500 (mid-sized) or $3,500 (larger-sized) per month for a piece of premium content; which is typically a special report or video, etc…They also included a charge of $1,500 for mid-sized and $2,500 for larger-sized companies for software and hosting.

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

As the principle objective of content marketing is to drive traffic and conversions, let’s look at Eloqua’s findings for these two metrics.

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRl

Image Credit: http://goo.gl/VkRl

When compared to the ongoing cost of paid advertising, content marketing shows a clear and substantial benefit; especially when longer time frames are taken into account.

Image Source: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

Image Source: http://goo.gl/VkRlY

Bencmarks, Budgets, and Trends

Some 86% of B2C marketers in North America are using content marketing, employing 12 individual tactics on average; but, as is the case with B2B content marketing, B2C content marketers are struggling with the effectiveness of their content marketing, according to the findings of the first B2C content marketing study from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

  • Among the highlights of the “B2C Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America” study:
  • B2B marketers use social media more often than their B2C counterparts; however, B2C marketers consider it more effective (57% of B2C marketers think social media is effective vs. 49% of B2B marketers).
  • On average, B2C marketers use four social media platforms, compared with five used by B2B marketers.
  • On average, 28% of B2C marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing, and 55% of consumer marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend.

Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2012/9504/2013-b2c-content-marketing-benchmarks-budgets-and-trends#ixzz2MExOqdDU

Real Life Examples

As not every boss is going to be convinced of the merits of content marketing just by looking at just facts and figures, allow me to share some real-life stories from entrepreneurs that I have interviewed here on Bright Ideas.

River Pools and Spas – Marcus Sheridan

Marcus’ story is nothing short of amazing. In 2008, his fiberglass pool and spa business was nearly broke. Prior to then, there were spending $250,000 a year to produce $4M in annual revenue. By 2012, their marketing spend had decreased to $20,000 a year and sales had increased to $4.5M (keep in mind that the pool business was hit very hard during these years, so any increase in sales was amazing in itself). You can watch the full interview here.

Joe Pulizzi – Content Marketing Institute

As the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe knows content marketing extremely well because he’s used it to build his entire company from scratch. Now one of the leading websites in the industry, CMI’s story is well worth listening to. You can watch the full interview here.

Rand Fishkin – SEOMoz

After starting out as an SEO consulting shop in 2004, SEOMoz has fast become one of the leading SEO software companies in the world today. Now with over 100 employees and venture backing, SEOmoz and Rand are proving the ROI on content marketing is extremely attractive. You can watch the full interview here.

Mike Stelzner – Social Media Examiner

Mike started SME back in back in October of 2009 at a time when there were already thousands of bloggers covering the topic. Despite that fact, SME has become the #2 blog in the US for small businesses and boasts a mailing list of just over 190,000 subscribers – all from a very focused content marketing strategy. You can watch the full interview here.

Conclusion

While there is no question that there is effort required to properly execute a well planned content marketing strategy, there is also no question that the benefits are substantial – and the best part is that, unlike with paid advertising, the benefits increase over time, even if your expenditures do not.

What Do You Think?

Did this article resonate with you? If so, please share it on your social networks and leave your comments down below.

Want to write for Bright Ideas? Click here.

Hey, thanks for the info. Now what?

If you need any help with content creation, we have tons of free resources to get you over the hump. Please subscribe to this blog to ensure that you never miss an article.

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